Slack, IBM Partner to bring Watson to developers

SAN FRANCISCO - 26 Oct 2016: IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Slack are partnering to bring Watson to Slack’s global community of developers and enterprise users. Drawing on the power of Slack’s digital workplace and the cognitive computing capabilities of Watson, developers will be able to create more offerings — including bots and other conversational inferences — that will transform the platform’s user experience. Developers can easily access the range of Watson services -- such as Conversation, Sentiment Analysis or speech APIs -- and build powerful new tools for the platform with this enhanced cognitive functionality.

As a first step, IBM and Slack intend to develop new and improved communications tools for users of the Slack platform, including an updated Slackbot to be powered by Watson and an IBM Watson-enabled bot for IT and network operations. IBM and Slack also plan to share learnings from the creation of these tools with developers as part of ongoing educational efforts, and the companies plan to offer specialized tutorial resources to accelerate how developers can tap into Watson:

Slack Intends to Adopt Watson Conversation for Slackbot: To further strengthen the Slack user experience, Slack intends to adopt Watson Conversation as a technology that helps power its Slackbot -- the platform’s popular customer service bot. This integration will improve the accuracy and efficiency of trouble-shooting on the platform. Since the tool uses Watson machine learning, it can become more accurate over time.

IBM Building Watson-Enabled Bot for IT and Network Operations: IBM is building a Watson-enabled Slack chatbot for IT and network operational incidents, so enterprise teams can more efficiently identify, address and fix these issues. The solution provides conversational interactions and resolution recommendations between a Slack channel and traditional Cloud, IT, and Network Operations tools. Once a team integrates it, users will no longer toggle between communications tools and resources to resolve an issue, as the bot centralizes trouble-shooting in one channel. Also, because of Watson’s machine learning technology, as the bot gathers data from previous conversations, it can more quickly and accurately address similar issues over time. Primary users of the tool will be subject matter experts, developers, engineers and application owners involved in supporting complex technology and application environments.

IBM Professionals Use Slack for Solutions Development: In tandem with this collaboration, a number of IBM groups are tapping into Slack. Teams such as marketing, design, and engineering have begun using the technology as part of their work to create new cognitive solutions that can be used on the Slack platform. They will also make their learnings from building these solutions available to developers.

IBM and Slack will Offer Onboarding Resources for Developers: IBM and Slack will offer tools that make it easier for developers to integrate into Slack. IBM will release a Botkit Watson middleware plugin that allows the Watson Conversation service to talk to Slack and other messaging channels. The plugin will be made available on Github for easy access. Additionally, the companies will offer an Application Starter Kit that provides resources to developers for getting started, such as code and step-by-step instructions for building on the Slack platform.

“ Slack and IBM share the same vision for how Ai can transform workplace efficiency, and we recognize the important role developers are playing as they tap into cognitive technology to improve this part of our lives,” said David Kenny, general manager, IBM Watson. “By combining Slack’s digital workplace capabilities and Watson’s cognitive computing power, one of our first steps is to make it easier for developers to build cognitive-enabled bots and solutions for the Slack platform. From there, we think there will be many more ways we can collaborate and help propel productivity in new ways.”

"Slack offers unprecedented internal transparency to organizations of all sizes around the world. As an increasing number of functional teams — from finance, customer support and HR, to recruiting, marketing and sales — have integrated their workflows into Slack, the degree of leverage we can gain from enhanced cognitive capabilities becomes massive," said Stewart Butterfield, CEO and co-founder of Slack. "We want Slack to become better and smarter the more you use it. We want to make it simpler for people to keep up with the most important conversations and to supercharge their ability to find fast answers. This partnership with IBM and the work we are doing with Watson, will accelerate our customers' organizational intelligence and propel workplace productivity in dramatic new ways."

IBM Watson: Pioneering a New Era of Computing:

Watson represents a new era in computing called cognitive computing, where systems understand the world the way humans do: through senses, learning, and experience. Watson continuously learns from previous interactions, gaining in value and knowledge over time.

With Watson, organizations are harnessing the power of cognitive computing to transform industries, help professionals do their jobs better, and solve important challenges. Watson is open to the world, allowing a growing community of developers, students, entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts to easily tap into the most advanced and diverse cognitive computing platform available today. Watson solutions are being built, used and deployed in more than 45 countries and across 20 different industries.

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